Double the delight at Whipsnade
Monday 8 August 2005
Staff at the Whipsnade bird garden are giving each other a well deserved pat on the back after successfully breeding four Caribbean flamingo chicks.
The keepers can’t take all the credit though, as they wouldn’t have managed it without an egg shaped lump of wood and a four inch bolt.
Breeding flamingos has become much harder recently as a result of increased predation by native species such as stoats, foxes and crows. So in order to protect the eggs the keepers remove them from the nest and substitute them with wooden eggs, whilst the real eggs are reared in an incubator and then replaced them as soon as the chick starts to “pip” the shell.
This year as an added precaution to ensure that the wooden egg stayed in place, the keepers decided to try staking the egg into the ground with four inch bolts. When they returned to switch the eggs back they found that the flamingos had not only built their nests up over the wooden eggs, but they had also laid a second egg on top – double the delight!
As keeper John Baines said “We only managed to breed one chick last year and we had to hand rear that one so we staked those eggs in deep thinking nothing was going to take them. The last thing we expected to find was another egg on top”!
Visitors to the park can now see four healthy flamingo chicks on the pond and there is no doubt that wooden eggs and metal bolts are on the menu for next year’s breeding season.